It’s Friday morning and we now present to you the last event match-up for the week. Monday will start the final 3 ending round 1 on Wednesday. If you have not voted thus far, scroll the site and vote on those you may have missed. This is the 5th match-up of our first round. Today we give you, the 1974 divisional playoff loss to the Raiders vs. the NY Jets Monday night miracle.
The 1974 Miami Dolphins had been the AFC representative in the Super Bowl for 3 years running. Two back to back championships left the Dolphins wanting more and another trip to the Super Bowl was within reach. The first obstacle was the Oakland Raiders.
The 74 Raiders were 12-2 behind NFL MVP Kenny Stabler’s dominating #1 ranked offense. Shula’s 11-3 Dolphins were set for the challenge. The NFL was seeing the best two teams fight it out. The winner would go to Pittsburgh for the right to play in Super Bowl VIII.
With time running down and the Raiders ahead, the Dolphins drove the field to score the go ahead points. Don Shula would later say he thought he left too much time on the clock. Ken Stabler would take the Raiders down the length of the field when it came down to one play. With 24 seconds left and one play to make the score, Stabler was flushed from the pocket and as he was hit fluttered the ball toward the end zone. In what was dubbed the “Sea of Hands”, the floundering pass found its way through the Miami defenders and into the hands of Clarence Davis for the winning touchdown.
The victory by the Raiders knocked the Dolphins out of the playoffs and ended a 3 year Super Bowl run. While the season ended, Miami would say good-bye three players who would leave for the WFL. The Dolphins would not again return to the Super Bowl until 1983.
“The game is over!” Said Jay Fiedler to Jason Taylor. Taylor who was miked for the Monday Night Football match-up with the NY Jets just smiled. The Dolphins had just scored in the waning seconds of the 3rd quarter to open a commanding 30-7 lead entering the 4th quarter.
Fans had begun their journey home from the Meadowlands and the Dolphins Zach Thomas later explained that it felt like a high-school game. Then, the Monday night miracle began to take shape. A touchdown early in the 4th to Lavernous Coles was the first of 3 quick strike touchdown passes from QB Vinnie Testaverde. A John Hall FG just over 5 minutes remaining left the Dolphins clinging to a suddenly demoralizing 7 point lead.
In the now back and forth battle the Jets tied the game with 3 minutes and change left. The empty stadium that only moments before had left the stadium a hollow shell was quickly filling back up as NY Jets fans raced back into the stadium. Zach Thomas would later say that by overtime, the stadium was packed again…and loud.
Jay Fiedler would throw a late game TD pass to put Miami back on top, but the defense failed to hold the Jets at bay and with time running out, Vinnie Testaverde his offensive tackle Jumbo Elliot in the end zone. Elliot, an eligible receiver on the play, bobbled the ball, bobbled the ball again, and then, landing stretched out, reeled the ball in for the tying score. 42 seconds remained.
While many Dolphins fans had long surrendered to the 3rd quarter route and opted instead to watch the backs of their eyelids, the Jets were in the process of pulling out a miracle. The Phins opened the OT with a drive to put the comeback attempt on ice but Jay Fiedler who opened his mouth earlier about having the game in the bag, threw an interception. John Hall would put the final touches on the game with a 40 yard field goal.
Espn has ranked this game one of the top Monday Night Football games in history. For the Miami Dolphins, it is one game that never should have been a part of theirs. Zach Thomas summed it up best when he said, “It makes me sick”.
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